(TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - As Mark McDaniel prepares to take on his new assistant city manager position with the city of Dallas, he and his former colleagues are positive in their reflections of his tenure in Tyler.
McDaniel, who had served as Tyler's city manager since 2009, will begin his new position on Tuesday.
McDaniel said that the city "is more talented now than it has ever been, with strong leadership at all levels."
"We have a remarkable and dedicated team of employees, and it has been my honor to serve the citizens of Tyler alongside them all," he said. "Without a doubt, I will be leaving the city in very good hands, and Tyler will attract a strong field of candidates to fill my spot. One of them will be very fortunate to be in a place to take the organization to even higher levels."
"It is a rare situation in government that you have such a high degree of alignment toward achievement of the community's goals — from the citizens to the excellent leadership on the City Council to the staff, deep into the organization. I am eternally grateful to the current and past mayors and council members for their strong support and professionalism these past several years. I will miss them all, as well as the many lifelong friends I have made in the community. Indeed, it has been a ‘good run.'"
Tyler Fire Chief Tim Johnson said he believes McDaniel brought a unique approach to city government.
Johnson, who has been through multiple city managers, said McDaniel had a passion for his work that was "second to none."
"He was so into being the city manager … and really taking it seriously. I think his motivation and direction is something you don't see every day," he said.
Johnson said McDaniel was disciplined and "pushed everyone to be better."
While Johnson has had many experiences with McDaniel, he specifically referenced book reviews that McDaniel did with the city's key leaders.
Johnson said the book reviews brought a new, positive angle and level to meetings, and McDaniel was good at pointing out how the book related to the direction that the city was going.
"He was just that way in setting those goals high and having those expectations. … His energy and his push ... was just constant, always the same and fair. I thought that he just brought that discipline to the table that he expected from everybody," Johnson said.
In the end, Johnson said he believes the book reviews provided employees with a broader point of view on methods they used in doing their job.
Johnson went on to describe McDaniel as "business-oriented" and "straight to the point," as well as someone who would ask, "What could we do (as a city) to be better?" and "What could we do to be more efficient?"
"That's what he was about all the time — straight business," Johnson said. "I got a lot out of his style and his direction."
Johnson said he also thinks that McDaniel's leadership through tough economic times was what the city needed.
"We were lucky to have him to shepherd the city during those times. I think we're all better because of the way his leadership style was," he said.
Tyler Police Chief Gary Swindle, who has worked for the city nearly 32 years, said McDaniel is the third city manager he's worked for as police chief.
As he reflected on McDaniel's tenure, he said one of the most impressive things was McDaniel wanted to ensure all employees heard from him personally.
He said McDaniel made the effort to go to the police department and share messages directly with employees, even if it meant coming to the department at 6 a.m. or 11 p.m.
Swindle said McDaniel made sure that officers heard from him and let employees know they were important.
He said he also was impressed with McDaniel's knowledge of city operations, whether it was parks, municipal court, solid waste, utilities or something else.
"He was always the standard of professionalism. … He always represented the city extremely well and led by setting an example," he said.
Russ Jackson, director of Solid Waste and Vehicle Services, said McDaniel had a "Godly approach to everything" and would start out meetings with prayer.
Jackson said through McDaniel's leadership, the city also was able to make it through hard economic times.
"Those are things important to me that made it enjoyable for me to work for an organization at the level I've been at," he said.
Additionally, he said, McDaniel is dry humored, which is how he is, and he liked to catch McDaniel off guard.
But Jackson said overall there was no question where McDaniel stood on things and his principles.
"We'll miss him and his leadership here. I think it's been evident that Tyler's a better place in a lot of ways," he said.